129 | CCN: 32938

Rhetoric of Autobiography

Instructor: Michael Mascuch,

4 Units

What is autobiography and why is it so popular these days? Are we all so self-obsessed? Or so accountable to others? How is autobiography a medium of self-knowledge, anyway? Aren’t all modes of self-reference autobiographical? We’ll ask these questions, and more, studying autobiography as rhetorical activity that takes many forms. We will read some classics, including Augustine’s Confessions, Rousseau’s Confessions, and Frederick Douglass’s Narrative; some new classics, including Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and Are You My Mother, Nan Goldin’s The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, and one of the six volumes of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle; and some esoteric texts, such as Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes, Joe Brainard’s I Remember, and our friends’ Snapchat stories and Facebook archives.